Terrestrial plants with air roots in tank..
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Old 11-05-2012, 03:40 PM   #1
GrampsGrunge
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Default Terrestrial plants with air roots in tank..

I forget where I got this idea from, but in the past I've had Philodendron roots trail into my larger tanks.

Presently my little 4.5 gallon nano set up is on a table under a long light hood with a small group of assorted house plants. A Christmas cactus, a rather small unknown variety of Orchid, a rangy old Spider plant and a Amaryllis that goes outside in the summer. The Spider-plant has been putting out plantlets on stalks since we first got it, but I noticed it seems to aim the latest ones at the nano tank. So giving in to a hunch I placed one of the baby Spider-plants on the tank edge with it's air-roots in the water, and in 3 days time it started to put on new growth and the roots have doubled in size.

I suspect I'm not the only one who has done this, is there any chance that Spider-plants could be harmful to the fish in my tank? The fish seem to like the shelter of the roots, ( which now almost cover half the end-glass of the tank, it's grown exponentially in the past 2 weeks..) I've added another pair off the mother plant into the tank as well, they're growing nicely too.

The added bonus to this is the daitoms and blue green slime algae have withered with this latest addition, and the Javafern has really pumped out a lot of new leaves.

So yeah, it seems like it's a really good thing.. Anyone else done this?
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Old 11-05-2012, 04:02 PM   #2
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No chance of harming your tank. Spider plant is non-toxic.

Do a search on "ripariums" here on the forum.

Terrestrial plants are great for nitrates.

Just beware, the spider plant will in time become far too big for a 4.5 gallon so be prepared to replace it or keep its roots severely cropped. I tried one briefly in my tank but it become too sprawling and I pulled it.

I use purple waffle and creeping fig in both my 5 gallon tanks and both are doing really well so far and sending out both new growth and a ton of roots. I'm also trying syngonium, peace lily, philodendron and pothos in another tank but its too soon to tell how they'll do, except the pothos which is already rooting well.

Usually, I've found terrestrial roots can adapt to underwater growth and will continue to grow, whereas as water-produced roots invariably dry up and fall off when planted in soil, requiring the plant to grow all new ones (at least in plants I've tried long enough to see - creeping fig, purple waffle, lucky bamboo, spider plant) An exception seems to be heartleaf philodendron, the terrestrial roots of which do rot when set right in water and have to regrow, but which transfer easily from water to soil without dying.
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Old 11-05-2012, 04:34 PM   #3
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Default Using Land Plants in Tanks

Hello Gramps...

There are a number of land plants that will do very well emersed in an aquarium. I have various species of Aglaonema, Pothos, Nephthytis and Philodendron in my larger tanks. Kind of a biotope/terraphyte effect. Peace lily and varieties of Impatiens will work too.

You just have to remove the plant from the pot and rinse all the potting mixture from the roots. Emerse the roots, but keep the leaves above the water to take in CO2 from the air in the room.

The roots take in the nitrogens produced by the fish and the tank water stays pure. I just replace the tank water lost to evaporation.

Really reduces the water changes.

B
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:18 PM   #4
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Very well, sounds like I'm on the right path so far.

Well years back, when I had my 30 gallon tank set up with a mercury vapor 125 watt bulb and an ancient old HOB filter from the 70's, ( had a noisy shaded pole 110 volt fan motor driving the impeller through a long shaft, seemed like it might have been a Metaframe filter.) that I had the Philodendron in it, it also had a stray water sprite that eventually took over the filter. Now that Water Sprite are impossible to get locally, because of the ban in CA, I've been looking for more semi immersed alternatives.

The Spider plantlets are still attached to the mother plant, I figured I will leave it this way until they get big enough to stabilize themselves. With the amount of wattage I have over this tank a little shade cant hurt.

Curious as to whether my Orchid will do well with it's air roots immersed
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Old 11-05-2012, 07:01 PM   #5
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The HOB planted filter idea is what I'm thinking of expanding the spider-plant's habitat into. The Purple Waffle plant sounds like a better choice in the future, but since the mother plant is so productive with runners I'm going with it for now.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:33 PM   #6
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I would not try an orchid. It could work, but for this kind of setup you really want plants that are fast growing and adaptable to various conditions. An orchid is really neither of these things. Orchids won't even grow in soil - only bark chips or something I think, so I really doubt it would do well suddenly plopped in water. But I could be wrong. I've never had an orchid.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:40 PM   #7
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I find spider plants too aggressively growing to use in an HOB. If they get into the filter they completely engulf the cartridges with roots, meaning that you could not change the filter without tossing the plant. Spider plant roots are very aggressive and grab onto those things really, really well and grow right inside them. Eventually they clog the impeller and stop it completely.

In recap, I recommend spider plants only in open water where excessive root growth is easily removed or can grow without causing problems. although even here they grab a hold of anything they touch - gravel, driftwood, etc.
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:21 PM   #8
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Philodendron has worked well for me, granted it doesn't grow very much. I've got this purple/green plant of the genus Tradescantia, fast growing and loves having wet roots. I'm trying a variegated Ivy I rescued for a dollar from Lowes, so far so good with wet feet. I've got some living basil from the grocery store, so far it is doing well with wet feet too. You might also look into "aquaponics" for plant ideas that work good associated with Fish tanks. A balance has to be struck for most plants, if too much of the roots are submerged they will rot.
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Old 11-06-2012, 02:16 AM   #9
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I don't really see any balance - either the entire root system is underwater or the plant dries up and dies. I've never had any kind of plant fail to adapt in a riparium except for peppermint, which rooted okay but eventually died out for unknown reasons, but some just grow too slowly (draceanas) or too quickly (sweet potato) to be useful in my situation.
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Old 11-06-2012, 04:10 AM   #10
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How do you grow sweet potato in the riparium? I have a Yam sprouting in the kitchen, but don't really want the whole thing sitting on my tank..
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Old 11-07-2012, 04:40 AM   #11
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The sweet potato that you eat can be grown in an aquarium. The roots can take over the whole tank REALLY FAST. Just anchor the sweet potato about half in/half out of the water and it will start growing. Thrives in high light, OK in medium. Not a low light house plant.

I have had most of the common Aroids (Philodendron and related) plants thriving in emersed set ups, usually roots in the water, stems hanging over the side of the tank. Pothos and Syngonium have been the best. Spider plant was OK as long as it got enough light, but was never great.

The only Orchid that I can ID that I have seen thrive in anything like this is the Jewel Orchid, a terrestrial Orchid with dark brown leaves and pink stripes. This was more of a riparium set up, though, the roots were not loose in the tank. I have seen some other Orchids that someone imported from Hawaii growing emersed, actually on something like shelving that created a tiered water fall, but I do not know what species.

I have found hanging plants to be easier to work with. Upright plants tend to fall over if they are not supported.
I have pumped aquarium water through a window box filled with lava rock. This is open so the water flows right through, but supports the upright plants very well. Prayer plant and several species of Dracaena worked well in that. Now I have Heartleaf Philodendron in it.
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Old 11-09-2012, 07:25 PM   #12
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Don't put the whole potato in the tank - it will rot. Just pull off a sprout at least 6-7 inches long, strip the bottom half of leaves and secure it so it can sprawl from the tank. I've only used ornamental varieties, which within a month grew two feet of stems and the same amount of roots - in other words, not a great plant for my little five gallon tank but it would be great in a larger one. Does need good lighting though - bright window or florescents.
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:12 AM   #13
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Well my Orchid has a number of air roots that escape from above the bark mix, they have little green tips which is interesting. I was not going to immerse the whole orchid rhizome, as much as maybe trail one or two of the air roots into the tank and see what comes of it.

I've been watering the other plants with tank water for some time and they all have benefited from the fish water. Since it's just a small group of 7 White Clouds it's really not a big fish load. Hoping I'll see some young soon.
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